The new multi-lingual Lazard website marks a new chapter in the firm’s digital presence. Our focus on the editing experience at every step of the build resulted in a CMS with a user-friendly, intuitive interface enabling efficient content management and publishing.
As Lazard was about to celebrate its 175th anniversary—from its founding as a family-owned dry goods merchant in New Orleans to becoming the preeminent global financial services firm that it is today—its digital presence needed to change.
Although Lazard’s previous website served the firm well for a number of years, it did not fully articulate Lazard’s dynamism, global influence, and commitment to diversity. And it needed to do a better job at attracting new talent.
Lazard asked Durable to help with this and also address things like improved usability, accessibility, and multilingual content. Behind the scenes, the content management experience needed to be significantly improved and encourage distributed authorship. At the same time the firm was taking an entirely new approach to infrastructure, security, and technical processes, among other things.
The scale and complexity of the infrastructure, in addition to a requirement for hosting on a platform unsupported by the CMS (Amazon AWS), presented significant development and environmental challenges.
Although Umbraco provides an open-source blob storage provider for Azure for Umbraco 9+, no storage provider existed for Amazon S3 during the development of the project. Durable created a package using the same Umbraco extension points as the Umbraco Azure provider. The package provides a custom file system (IFileSystem) containing an image provider (IImageProvider) for ImageSharp as well as its own cache provider (IImageCache).
In a typical multi-environment deployment (which, in this case, supports multiple sites and multiple languages), configuration and content would move between environments using Umbraco Deploy. However, for Lazard, each environment (development, staging, and production) included its own "pre-publish" and "publish" sub-environments. These sub-environments contain separate backoffice and web instances. In addition, web instances are load-balanced and auto-scale using AWS Elastic Beanstalk. In each pre-publish environment, Umbraco Workflow (formerly Plumber) is used for content approval and publishing before being pushed into the publish sub-environment. Separate CI and CD pipelines were created to manage the deployments by sub-environment.
Orphaned content deletion
With this complex architecture and approval workflow, one requirement that came to light was the ability to delete content that had already been pushed from pre-publish to publish. Umbraco Deploy does not provide this functionality. A custom package was developed with a dashboard within the Umbraco backoffice. The dashboard exists in the pre-publish environment and scans for both content and media that exists on the publish side but not on the pre-publish side, and allows for the deletion of these orphan documents.
Our custom package extends Umbraco Deploy, allowing content deletions from a pre-publish (staging) site to be pushed to publish (live).
Management of external content
The lazard.com website features listings of financial transactions sourced from a read-only external database. Content managers can also create pages to provide further details about any transaction, combining information from the external database (region, sector, amount, etc.) with additional content created in Umbraco. Transaction information can be overridden if necessary using custom property editors that display both the original and edited values. We also created a dashboard with complex search and filter capabilities to allow editors to quickly locate transactions in the backoffice.
We extended the Umbraco database schema to store the overridden data. Since this content does not exist within Umbraco, Umbraco Deploy could not push it from a pre-publish to publish environment. We created an extension to achieve this, which provides content managers with fine-grained control over the publishing of data existing outside of Umbraco.
Flexible filtering and display options for components such as this article listing allow it to be used in a variety of ways across the site, and enable Lazard to respond to future content needs as they arise.
The Lazard.com website makes extensive use of list components that link to related content. Editors can easily add lists of articles, people, events, or transactions to a page to showcase content related to the topic of the current page.
The list components allow content managers to fully automate the display of information (“show the latest transactions from the UK”), curate individual content items, or a mix of both (“pin this article then show the two newest Perspective items tagged with Healthcare”).
To support this, we built rich content filtering options into the backoffice across several taxonomies. Type-ahead searches allow content managers to quickly locate content items, and search and filter results are presented and previewed within the component without needing to save the page.
“We were pleased to see how well Durable was able to customize Umbraco to support our complex AWS hosting environment, enterprise security, and quality requirements. We’re also pleased to support the Umbraco development community with a package for Umbraco Deploy to allow bulk deletion of orphaned items.”
Director – IT, Digital Platforms, Lazard
“Durable has really brought to life the visual design language created by Brunswick Creative for our new corporate website and also provided us with an intuitive and exceptionally robust editing experience.”
SVP, UX & Digital Products, Lazard